Being poached? Don’t sign without a contract review

When you’re poached for a new role, the future looks bright. It’s likely you’ll be feeling flattered and positive about the prospect.

However, being poached brings with it both opportunity and risk. It can be easy to jump headfirst into an exciting opportunity without properly assessing the conditions on offer. Here are some points to help you keep a level head while you make your decision.

The pros

Congratulations! If the company has approached you, it’s because they see you as a desirable candidate. This puts you in a strong bargaining position, perhaps stronger than candidates who are competing for a position that’s been put to the open market. To bring you over to their organisation, an employer may be willing to offer more favourable remuneration, perhaps including elaborate bonus schemes.

When you are being poached, take advantage of your desirability to the company that has approached you. You may have an opportunity to leverage your current remuneration and try to get more benefits than you’re currently on, or higher than the industry standard.

The risks of being poached

With that strong position comes some risks. These include:

  • Making decisions in a rush. In the excitement of being headhunted, decisions are often made quickly; you’ll want to make sure you’re not rushing into things.
  • Doing a handshake deal.Make sure you firm up the terms and conditions of the agreement in writing prior to your engagement.
  • Agreements are only verbal. The contract you sign needs to reflect the verbal offer.
  • Agreeing to lower conditions. Make sure you’re not signing up to anything that’s less advantageous than what you’re currently receiving from your employer.
  • Overlooking current contract restrictions. You may have a restraint of trade in place with your current employer, which prevents you from working for a competitor for a period of time.

In order to manage these risks, have someone look over the proposed agreement. You need to bring a dispassionate eye to the contract and make sure you’re not signing up to anything that was not discussed in your meetings. Getting this second opinion from someone who is not invested in the decision can also help you to understand the terms and conditions you can negotiate. They can give you objective advice about whether the contract offers a better deal for you.

It’s equally important to gain advice about your current employment agreement. Objective advice about any restraint of trade clauses can ensure you’re not leaving yourself open to a breach of contract claim.

Weighing up the decision

If you hadn’t considered changing jobs until being headhunted, you have a few decisions to wrap your head around.

Should you stay or should you go? Consider:

  • Do you think you’ll be more satisfied and happier if you move companies?
  • Will your remuneration be better than what you are currently earning?
  • Will the terms and conditions be better or more suited to your personal circumstances?
  • Are you close to accruing entitlements with your current employer, such as long service leave? If so, it might be worth waiting a little longer before departing.

If the new employer is not offering better remuneration or benefits, you should leverage your desirability as a candidate and negotiate to get a better deal. Alternatively, you can approach your current employer for an increase to your remuneration or a contract negotiation – however, only you can judge whether this move will be seen in a positive light or put you in a vulnerable position of potentially being exited from the company.

TOPIC: Employment law
RELATED LEGAL SERVICES: Employment law

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Patrick Turner

Maurice Blackburn Brisbane
Patrick Turner is an employment and industrial Associate working in Maurice Blackburn’s Brisbane office, which is listed by the highly respected Doyle's Guide to the Australian Legal Profession as one of two top tier law firms for employees in Queensland. In 2017, Patrick was the recipient of the national Lawyers Weekly 30 Under 30 Award for Workplace Relations, Employment and Safety. Patrick is a tenacious, incisive and hard-working negotiator who strives to secure the best outcomes for his clients. He was drawn to employment law on account of the vital role employment plays in people’s lives. “For many, our work is at the core of our identity,” says Patrick. “When people are dismissed, discriminated against, bullied or otherwise mistreated in the course of their employment, this can pose a serious threat to their financial state and mental health. I practice employment law to fight for those who have suffered wrongs and who most need an advocate.” He has particular skills in employment contracts, discrimination law, general employment law and unfair dismissal, adverse action and workplace bullying claims. Patrick graduated from the University of Queensland in 2013 with a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours, for which he was awarded notable accolades. He joined Maurice Blackburn in 2014 following significant and productive stints as an employee of a former Deputy Premier and as a paralegal with the Refugee and Immigration Legal Service. Patrick is a vigorous fighter for justice, and it’s the difference he makes in his clients’ lives that motivates him. “The knowledge that a great outcome in an employment matter can change a person’s life for the better, whether by keeping them in the job they love or ensuring they have the means to begin a new chapter, is what drives me to fight for my clients.” Patrick’s support of broader human rights is evident in his volunteer work for Amnesty International and the Refugee and Immigration Legal Service. He also helped provide the seed which grew to establish Unions 4 Refugees in Queensland. Accreditations & memberships Amnesty International Queensland Legal Network executive member Awards Lawyers Weekly 30 Under 30 Workplace Relations, Employment and Safety Award, 2017 Joan Allsop Prize, 2013 Lions of Queensland John Francis O'Grady Memorial scholarship, 2013 Dean's Commendation for High Achievement, 2012 ...

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